A lot of people seem to think of “hydro” as a fad, or quackery. This is probably because “taking the waters”, the principle of treating a wide range of complaints by bathing in hot mineral springs, is so old. After all, the Ancient Greeks and Romans were building spas across Europe over 2000 years ago! More recently, the image is of consumptive ladies and elderly, gout-ridden gentlemen spending their last days in expensive spas.
In this blog, though, we’re going to talk about how hydrotherapy has changed in recent years, how useful it currently is for dogs, and why we’ve invested in a hydro pool here in the practice!
What is modern hydrotherapy?
Hydrotherapy is a specific type of physiotherapy, using the uplift, pressure and warmth of water to bring specific musculoskeletal benefits to our patients. All our patients are monitored throughout their sessions by our vets and nurses who are specially trained in veterinary physiotherapy and hydrotherapy.
What can it be used for?
Hydrotherapy is a really useful treatment for a wide range of different diseases, conditions, and life-stages. In particular, we like to use it for…
- Younger dogs and puppies, especially of large or giant breeds, where we can help them gain fitness and muscle development without risking damage to young growing joints.
- Dogs needing to gain fitness or lose weight, where work in the water can help to build muscle and burn fat much faster than on land.
- Treating neurological conditions such as nerve and spinal damage.
- Rehabilitation of dogs after orthopaedic surgery, where they aren’t able to fully weight-bear yet.
- Helping to treat and support older dogs suffering from arthritis whose joints are stiff and sore.
How does it work?
We maintain the water at a comfortably warm 27C. The exercises we prescribe and help our patients with act to stimulate lymphatic and blood flow, reducing swelling and improving healing; they also strengthen the muscles and improve balance. Because the water supports the body’s weight, it can help with retraining the dog’s gait and, by giving pain-free mobility, improve the full range of joint motion in both flexion and extension (this is really useful in arthritis). Finally, the resistance of the water can be used to aid weight loss, and dogs can exercise at both walk and trot.
What facilities does USVC have?
Unlike many other units, we do not simply use a swimming pool. Instead, we use a water treadmill, encouraging patients to walk or trot through the water. We can increase or decrease the depth of the water, to give more or less buoyancy and resistance, depending on exactly what that patient needs. Of course, the glass walls of the treadmill tank are also really useful, helping us to accurately gauge the dog’s gait and status, meaning we can adjust the work if they start to tire.
What packages do you offer?
We generally use our underwater treadmill as part of a full rehabilitation package. This typically includes hydrotherapy, physiotherapy, massage, therapeutic laser, and passive and active “range of movement” exercises to be done at home.
In general, though, it there are three packages on offer:
- The “Basic Fitness Package”, including assessment and 3 x intro package for fitness treadmill (200 AED).
- The “Advanced Fitness Package”, which follows on from the above, offering 10 x Fitness Treadmill sessions once or twice weekly building up to 40 minutes maximum of walking & trotting when very fit! (1000 AED).
The “Therapy Package”. This includes 10 sessions which may have some or all of the modalities of treatment over the sessions depending on the ability and stage of your dog. These last from 30-45 minutes and may be twice or three times a week depending on the clinical circumstances. Our goal is to get your dog pain free, then try and increase their functional range of movement and re-build muscle and core stability. Every animal and condition is different so the needs of each individual are carefully considered. Consists of any or all of - proprio training, physio, massage and treadmill (3000 AED)